Samantha Power, tapped Wednesday by President Obama to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has a problematic history that Israel activists are hoping will be brought up during her confirmation hearings.
Power, a human rights activist and anti-genocide crusader, in a 2002 interview, subsequently disavowed, spoke of Israel’s “major human rights abuses” of Palestinians.
She also described the pro-Israel lobby as a “domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” cited the potential need for “meaningful military presence” to police an Israel-Palestinian peace accord and seemed to advocate reducing military aid to Israel to help support a Palestinian state if there were a peace deal.
Power was an academic at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government at the time of the interview, conducted by Harry Kreisler of University of California at Berkeley. The comments had been highlighted by Obama’s critics during his first presidential campaign.
In a 2008 interview with Haaretz, Power disavowed her comments. Martin Peretz, then editor-in-chief of the New Republic magazine, wrote in her defense that he was confident that she “truly, truly loves Israel and the people of Israel.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which calls itself the leading organization fighting anti-Semitism, was among the first groups to issue a statement praising Power’s selection by Obama.